Science & Technology

UWF enhances nationally designated cybersecurity program with new degree

An established leader in cybersecurity education and research, the University of West Florida has added a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity this fall, enhancing its nationally designated program.

UWF is the first university in Florida to offer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

“With the CAE designation, academic institutions are formally recognized for their robust cybersecurity-related programs,” said Brian Goeker, NSA College of Cyber Division Chief. “Institutions undergo extensive assessments by government technical experts, and with successful evaluations, are uniquely positioned to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to defend against current and future cyber threats. The University of West Florida was additionally selected as a Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center, responsible for leading CAE efforts across five Southeast states and Puerto Rico.”

UWF produces highly-skilled graduates to address the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals. CyberSeek reports a shortage of about 13,500 cybersecurity professionals in Florida and about 300,000 nationwide. Experts predict the global shortage will exceed two million by 2020 and the industry will grow nearly 30 percent through 2026. The average salary for a cybersecurity professional in Florida with a bachelor’s degree in a computing discipline is about $85,000.

“This is another significant step taken by the college in its role as a leader in cybersecurity education,” said Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, interim dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “To offer a B.S. in Cybersecurity, especially one with the Center for Academic Excellence designation, ensures we will produce talented cybersecurity professionals to fill the critical workforce shortage.”

The bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity, housed in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, will emphasize secure computer programming and foundational knowledge, skills and abilities for cybersecurity. The program will create new synergies for students and faculty across UWF to engage in research and prepare students to become future cybersecurity leaders. Faculty and students from various departments will be able to collaborate on joint projects to solve complex security problems that leverage individual expertise.

UWF previously offered a Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Sciences with a specialization in Cybersecurity. In its first year in 2015, 21 students pursued the cybersecurity specialization. Now, approximately 180 students have declared cybersecurity as their major, making it one of the fastest growing programs at UWF.

UWF serves as the Center of Academic Excellence Regional Resource Center for the Southeast U.S. In this role, UWF provides leadership to advance cyber defense education among colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and South Carolina. The bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity meets state and national curricular guidelines and workforce needs and serves as a best-practice model for other institutions to develop similar programs.

“UWF’s bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity addresses the nation’s growing need for graduates with cybersecurity skills that can build secure systems, protect data assets and defend against network and system attack,” said Dr. Thomas Reichherzer, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “The degree program will allow students to launch their careers as cyber professionals.”

For more information on the bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, please visit